AMONG the forthcoming appointments of the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration, the position of Secretary of Health is most important.
This early, the people are wondering who will fill the shoes of the indefatigable Dr. Francisco Duque III.
It is good to know that the medical community has aired some ideas on the next DOH chief -- not a particular person, but the qualities that he/she should possess to be able to lead the agency, considering that we are still fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr. Benito Atienza, president of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) which is the biggest organization of doctors in the country, said the next DOH head should be patient, understanding, down to earth and an expert when it comes to the needs of the public.
He envisions somebody like former health secretary Juan Flavier, who later became a senator.
"We need a health secretary who has a broad understanding and someone who will give importance to vaccination, who listens to the concerns of healthcare workers regarding their salaries as well as their needs for facilities," Atienza said.
As this developed, the Department of Health sees no need for Alert Level 2 in Metro Manila, despite a small upsurge in the number of Covid-19 infections following the hotly contested national and local elections, and notwithstanding the presence of new variants in the country such as the Omicron BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1. The DOH confirmed these variants (only 14 cases) affecting Metro Manila and Puerto Princesa City, and timely government intervention successfully prevented more infections.
It is good that a big part of the population have already been vaccinated against Covid-19, and more Filipinos are receiving their booster shots.
Omicron, however, dislikes to leave us be. The virus has mutated again, dishing out the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 variants, prompting the authorities to issue the call for renewed vigilance.
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said the private sector should double its efforts to assist the incoming Marcos administration. He stressed that Covid-19 is still very much around and we have to stay focused more than ever so we can keep the economy open.
Bongbong Marcos will have to face serious international and national problems such as poverty, crime, insurgency, inflation, jobs, food and energy security, etc. The list is almost endless, and we would not want to exacerbate the problems by adding another Covid-19 resurgence to the equation.
Concepcion and other experts on the economic aspects of Covid-19 pandemic reiterated that the preventive measures we see for now are vaccination and boosters. We cannot go to heightened alert levels anymore as our economy will suffer. We cannot raise alert levels, but we can raise immunity levels.